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Born in Leeds, England, Heaps immigrated to Canada in 1911 and worked in Winnipeg as an upholsterer. He was one of the leaders of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 and was a Labor alderman on the Winnipeg City Council from 1917 to 1925. He ran for the Canadian House of Commons as a Labour candidate in 1923 in the riding of Winnipeg North but was defeated. He was elected in the 1925 election and joined J.S. Woodsworth as the sole Labor MP in Parliament. The Liberal government of William Lyon Mackenzie King was elected with a minority government. Heaps and Woodsworth agreed to support the Liberals in exchange for the government creating Canada's first old age pension. Heaps and Woodsworth joined other left wing MPs to form the Ginger Group.
One of the few Jews in Parliament, Heaps pressured the government to allow Jewish refugees from the Nazis into Canada.
His son, Leo Heaps, wrote a 1984 biography about him called The Rebel in the House: The Life and Times of A.A. Heaps MP and was an unsuccessful New Democratic Party candidate in the 1979 federal election. His grandson, Adrian Heaps, was elected to Toronto City Council in 2006.
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